Detecting scoliosis: a breeze for parents

Detecting scoliosis: a breeze for parents

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Deformation of the spine, scoliosis affects 2 to 3% of the population and develops from childhood. Only early treatment can limit the aggravation. Good news for parents: a very accessible video helps them detect the first signs of scoliosis in their child.

The explanations of Professor Jean Dubousset, specialist in pediatric orthopedics.

Scoliosis, what is it?

  • Scoliosis is a symptom of deformity of the spine and back. The vertebrae move little by little with each other, which will cause a twist, a curvature of the vertebral axis.
  • The causes can be multiple. The most common of these is idiopathic scoliosis, the cause of which remains an enigma.
  • It affects 2 to 3% of the population and develops during childhood without pain or apparent symptoms.
  • It is especially during puberty, a period of great growth, that scoliosis evolves rapidly.

Early detection to limit the damage!

  • For children or adolescents diagnosed too late and suffering from significant deformity, treatments are not only difficult and often disabling. Without guarantee of results:
  • Non-surgical treatments, by plaster and corsets at best prevent the aggravation of the deformation.
  • Surgery, despite the considerable technical progress of the last 3 decades, is only suitable in scoliosis cases out of 10. It consists of welding the deformed vertebrae together. With irreversible consequence of rigidifying part of the spine.
  • Only screening at the earliest in childhood and the implementation of the appropriate treatment allows to consider minimal deformity, without loss of vertebral mobility with growth as close as possible to normal.

Parents have a role to play!

  • If it is especially from 8 or 9 years old that it is recommended to check every 6 months, with increased vigilance at the beginning of puberty, you can start to detect possible scoliosis in your child from 3 years old, using a simple clinical examination based on 2 control points:
  • 1/Costal asymmetry. Have your child lean forward, legs outstretched and joined, hands between the knees. Have a grazing look, from the front or back on his back. In principle, his back should be flat. If this exercise reveals an asymmetry (see photo), one side of the back higher than the other, it is not normal.
  • 2/The skylight. Observe your child standing, with his arms hanging down. If you notice a triangular space between the arm and the torso (see photo opposite), this is the skylight. This is not normal.
  • These 2 signs are alerts that should encourage you to consult quickly.
  • To help you detect them, the Academy of Medicine and the Yves Cotrel Foundation put at your disposal a video (see below)

Frédérique Odasso

* Foundation for research in spinal pathology